Easter bunny brings smiles to sick kids

Kani Newton waves after seeing the Easter Bunny for the first time. / Jessica Fairley

For the sixth year in a row, the Dougherty County Police Department is taking the Easter bunny to the doctor. Not to get him well, but to brighten the day of those who aren't able to celebrate Easter outside of the hospital.

A smile came over the face of 8-year-old Kani Newton as he saw the Easter bunny for the first time.

"I've never seen an Easter bunny in a costume before," says Kani Newton, patient at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

The child is in the hospital for asthma symptoms, but thanks to the Dougherty County Police officers, he's getting an Easter gift. It's a blue bunny and Newton isn't the only one receiving the surprise.

"That was sweet because I wanted to be with my family today and I never thought anyone would come because we only had three visitors since we been up here," says Jimarah Dixon, whose child is in Phoebe's children's ward.

Dixon has been back and forth to the hospital for weeks at a time with her daughter Jordan.

"I really wanted to go home but that just made my day," says Dixon.

She wasn't the only one caught off guard by the generosity of the police officers.

"That was so nice. He gets to see the Easter bunny. So that was really sweet," says Lorabeth Short.

Short and her husband, Paul, delivered little Mason Short on Wednesday. Since he was born earlier than expected, he's in the Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Lorabeth says she's grateful for the gift and she'll remind him of how he got the brown bunny.

Each bunny comes with a message that says "Some bunny loves me. The nurses at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital say their goal is to make sure each child feels loved when they come through the doors, including their own.

"She was born at 1:31 a.m. last night, so it's very exciting to have an Easter baby and we just excited that she's healthy and everything is going well," Susan Tyson, a Nursing Staff Supervisor for Phoebe and a new mother.

Tyson says seeing officers bring the bunny in to brighten up the day of children is a reward in itself. Those with the Dougherty County Police say it's their way of giving back.

"It's a terrible thing to be in the hospital on Easter, so we hope just to bring them a little joy and a little smile to their face. It's absolutely fun for us. We love it," says Dougherty County Police Captain Jimmy Sexton.